Take a walk through the years as Fairleigh Dickinson University grows and expands its reach, while preserving its core values: access and opportunity, innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity and civility, and community service and global engagement.
1940s: In the Beginning
Dr. Peter Sammartino and Mrs. Sylvia Sammartino represent Fairleigh Dickinson in a local parade. (Photos courtesy of FDU Archives, unless otherwise indicated)
1941 — Dr. Peter Sammartino and his wife, Sylvia, conceive the idea for a small junior college. An advisory committee of dedicated area high-school principals works to develop school's mission and curriculum.
1942 — Fairleigh Dickinson Junior College, named for its early benefactor, Col. Fairleigh S. Dickinson, opens for class on September 16, 1942. It is housed in the former Ivison estate's main building, “The Castle,” in Rutherford, N.J. Sixty full-time students — 59 women and one man — and many more part-time students are enrolled.
The first newspaper advertisement for Fairleigh Dickinson Junior College listed faculty, courses and more.
An aerial view of the first Fairleigh Dickinson campus in Rutherford, N.J., circa 1952.
1944 — The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights, brings an influx of veterans to study at FDU.
Veterans studying at Fairleigh Dickinson under the GI Bill, circa 1945.
1948 — In response to the need for higher education in northern New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson expands its programs into a four-year curriculum, becoming Fairleigh Dickinson College.
Members of the Women's Reserve Corps at Fairleigh Dickinson act as pages for the Herald Tribune Forum in New York in 1948.
1948 — The school is first accredited by the regional accrediting agency, the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
1950s: A Multi-campus University Emerges
1954 — The first graduate-level program is offered — a master’s degree in business administration, still one of the University’s most popular programs.
An early business class at Fairleigh Dickinson.
1954 — Bergen Junior College in Teaneck, N.J., is purchased as FDU’s second campus.
Fairleigh Dickinson's second campus becomes known as the Teaneck Campus.
1956 — By action of the New Jersey State Board of Education, Fairleigh Dickinson College becomes Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Students Carole (Armstrong) Lorenz, BS’57 (Ruth), (left) and
Bette (Sirian) Andrews, BS’58 (Ruth), change a sign from "Fairleigh Dickinson College" to "Fairleigh Dickinson University."
1956 — The School of Dentistry at FDU admits its first students.
The first class of dental students at FDU.
1957 — The Literary Review, an international journal of contemporary writing published quarterly, is founded.
Jill Kushner, former part-time editor, with founding editors of The Literary Review, Walter Cummins and Harry Keyishian, circa the 1980s.
1958 — A third campus is created in Madison, N.J., on the former estate of Florence Vanderbilt Twombly and her husband Hamilton.
Chatting at the Madison Avenue gates and entrance to FDU's Madison Campus.
1960s: Crossing the Pond
1960 — Lyndon B. Johnson visits the Teaneck Campus during his vice presidential campaign under presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.
Lyndon Johnson (left) and Peter Sammartino (right) during Johnson's successful vice presidential campaign with presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960.
1960 — The women's fencing team at the Teaneck Campus wins the first of its three national championships in the decade.
1963 — The Division I (DI) Knights men’s soccer team makes the first of 11 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament appearances it will make between 1963 and 1989.
The Knights men’s soccer team in action in 1963.
1964 — Edward Williams College, a two-year school offering associate degrees with highly personalized instruction and guidance, starts classes on the Teaneck Campus.
1965 — The University opens its first overseas campus, Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England.
Academics process from Wroxton Abbey to the Church of All Saints in Wroxton Village, Oxfordshire, during the campus’s dedication.
1967 — Founding president Peter Sammartino retires from the presidency after 24 years of service and is appointed chancellor and president emeritus. J. Osborn Fuller is named president.
President J. Osborn Fuller
1967 — Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., addresses nearly 2,000 students and faculty at the Rutherford Campus, receiving a standing ovation for his stance on the evolution of civil rights and the Vietnam War. He appeared the year before at the Teaneck Campus.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
1969 — Greek organizations are first sanctioned at the University.
Greek life leaders, as pictured in the 1969 Castlelight yearbook.
1970s: Growth and Expansion
1971 — WFDU (89.1 FM) begins broadcasting on August 30. The first song the radio station plays is "Friends" by Elton John.
WFDU-FM is the radio voice of FDU, providing distinctive entertainment shows and award-winning public affairs programming for the tri-state metro area.
1972 — Fairleigh Dickinson University opens its second overseas campus, the West Indies Laboratory at St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
At FDU's West Indies Laboratory, students study marine biology.
1973 — FDU establishes the Devils Division III (DIII) football team at the Madison Campus, led by Head Coach Bill Klika, now director of Devils athletics.
1974 — Jerome Pollack becomes FDU’s third president.
1977 — The Gene Barnett Literary Society’s speaker series begins at the Teaneck Campus. The series went on to attract many of the foremost literary figures in the world to campus, including Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Amy Tan, David Remnick, and Billy Collins.
Playwright Edward Albee, most famous for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," visits FDU as part of the inaugural season of the Gene Barnett Literary Society’s speaker series in 1977.
"The Joy Luck Club" author Amy Tan speaks at FDU in 1996.
1980s: Staying the Course
1982 — The first students are admitted to a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.
1983 — Jerome M. Pollack resigns as president; Walter Savage is appointed acting president.
Acting President Walter Savage
1984 — Robert Donaldson becomes the fourth president of the University.
President Robert Donaldson
1985 — The Knights men’s basketball team makes its first appearance in the DI NCAA tournament. The team also plays in the 1988, 1998, 2005 and 2016 tournaments.
They shoot, they score! Yearbook photos of the Knights men’s basketball team, and cheerleaders, in 1985.
1988 — Future president George H.W. Bush speaks at the Rothman Center on November 3, just days before his election win. With him is a young Republican named Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will later serve two terms as governor of California.
The Cygnus yearbook coverage of George H. W. Bush's campaign stop at FDU's Teaneck Campus.
1990s: Reorganizing for the Future
1990 — The College of Dental Medicine graduates its final class.
1990 — Hurricane Hugo, at its most destructive, crosses the island of St. Croix, damaging an estimated 90% percent of its buildings, including FDU West’s Indies Laboratory. The University closes the facility as a result.
A view of FDU's West Indies Laboratory, prior to sustaining damage from Hurricane Hugo.
1992 — Francis J. Mertz becomes the fifth president of FDU.
President Francis J. Mertz
1993 — The University merges its operations on the Rutherford Campus with those of the Teaneck and Madison campuses beginning with the 1994–95 academic year.
1996 — President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore address environmental issues in an event at the Rothman Center at the Teaneck Campus.
President Bill Clinton is the first sitting president to visit FDU.
1998 — New College of General and Continuing Studies is formed to address the special educational needs of nontraditional students, including adult learners.
1999 — J. Michael Adams is appointed the sixth president of the University and is inaugurated in 2000.
President J. Michael Adams
2000s: Renewed Commitment to Global Education
2000 — The Board of Trustees approves a new mission statement: “Fairleigh Dickinson University is a center of academic excellence dedicated to the preparation of world citizens through global education. The University strives to provide students with the multidisciplinary, intercultural and ethical understandings necessary to participate, lead and prosper in the global marketplace of ideas, commerce and culture.”
FDU’s dedication to global education is displayed in the Teaneck Campus’s long-time practice of flying flags from around the world. (Photo by Al Ferreira Photography)
2000 — Silberman College of Business receives prestigious accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).
2001 — PublicMind — FDU's opinion research center conducting public polls and survey research on politics, society, popular culture and consumer/economic trends — launches.
2002 — FDU earns designation as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information.
2002 — To reflect the character of each distinct New Jersey campus, their names are changed to the College at Florham and the Metropolitan Campus.
2006 — The Knights women’s bowling team wins FDU's first DI NCAA championship. They repeat in 2010.
Two-time NCAA women's bowling champions: in 2006 (above) and 2010 (below).
2007 — The University opens a new international campus, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
An exterior view of FDU-Vancouver. (Photo by Jobin Mojtabavi)
2008 — Fairleigh Dickinson presents an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the keynote speaker, during Academic Convocation. He also announces the new U.N. Academic Impact, a program that brings together universities committed to working with the United Nations, developed with the help of FDU President J. Michael Adams.
U.N. Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon addresses the FDU Community.
2009 —Continuing its tradition of supporting U.S. veterans in entering higher education, FDU joins the Yellow Ribbon program the year that it is implemented, offering an unlimited number of matching grants, for all academic programs, to veterans.
2009 — FDU graduates its first class in the doctor of nursing practice degree program. The program focuses on preparing nurses for leadership roles.
2009 — FDU welcomes President Barack Obama and diplomat Caroline Kennedy to the Rothman Center on the Metropolitan Campus.
President Barack Obama addresses supporters at FDU. (Photo by Dan Landau)
2010s: Momentum Building for Tomorrow
2010 — FDU’s Words and Music Festival caps it third season with an incredible merging of the popular and literary arts: pairing two New Jersey natives, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen and former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
Glory Days for FDU's Words and Music Festival, as singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen performs. (Photo by W. Scott Giglio)
2010 — The annual Commencement exercises celebrate the first graduating class from FDU’s Vancouver campus.
Members of the inaugural class of graduates, and Campus Provost Cecil Abrahams, from FDU-Vancouver.
2012 — FDU welcomes the first class — more than 80 students — to its new School of Pharmacy, the first such school to open in New Jersey in more than 120 years and only the second in the state.
(Photo by Deborah Feingold)
2012 — Sheldon Drucker, FDU’s chief operating officer, begins serving as the University's seventh president.
President Sheldon Drucker (Photo by Deborah Feingold)
2013 — During a renovation project, workers discover a Prince Albert tobacco can in a wall of the Science Building at the College at Florham, a small, informal time capsule from 1932. The can contains a handwritten note from the Twombly-Vanderbilt era: “These Bathrooms was Remodled [sic] in 1932 E.J. Parsons of Morristown N.J. did the Plumbing work and Edw F Daniher of 70 Britten St Madison did the Tile work other men worked on the Job are J. T. Steating Madison Peter Moore “Joe Gero” Tom Skelly Morristown Chas. Clements” It was during Probition [sic] and it was a very dry Job. The finder of this note if the 18 Amendment has bin [sic] changed have a good Drink on us. E. Daniher”
The Prince Albert tobacco can found in a wall of the Science Building during renovations. (Photo by W. Scott Giglio)
2014 — The College at Florham is renamed the Florham Campus and FDU-Vancouver becomes known as the Vancouver Campus.
2014 — With an undefeated record, and their second consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championship, the Devils women’s basketball team wins the national Division III NCAA title.
The Devils women’s basketball team celebrates winning the DIII NCAA tournament in Stevens Point, Wis. (Photo by W. Scott Giglio)
2014 — A larger-than-life bronze statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., is unveiled on the Hackensack River Pathway as it leads to the footbridge that crosses the Metropolitan Campus.
A statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., graces the Metropolitan Campus. (Photo by Bill Kennedy)
2016 — Christopher Capuano, FDU’s University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, is appointed to the University’s presidency.
President Christopher Capuano (Photo by John Emerson)
2016 — Sixty-nine students become the first class to graduate from the pharmacy school, receiving doctoral hoods and PharmD degrees. Later in the year, the school is renamed the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to reflect its growth.
Pharmacy students celebrate at graduation. (Photo by Roy Groething)
2016 — The University announces the formation of a new School of Public and Global Affairs. Operating University-wide, it will build on the success of FDU’s Public Administration Institute, its Master of Public Administration degree and other existing graduate programs and FDU’s PublicMind polling institute.